Friday, February 15, 2008

No Bird Brain

Back in November, I covered the saga of losing my cockatiel, Bradley, and gaining Truman the quaker parrot as the newest family member here at Duloc Manor. Our little green feathwad has been here almost three months now and has developed from a perch potato into quite a comical little bird.

As you can see from the photo above, he has no fear of the cats. Stitch (pictured) is non-lethal anyway, but Farquaad would eat him in a second. Poor Tooncinator still can't figure out why Truman won't play with him like Bradley used to. Toonce would swat at Bradley, and Brad would bite him back...they would go on and on with their play fighting. But Truman wants no part of a big, hairy cat paw coming at him, and I can't say that I blame him.

It took Truman a while to settle in, but now he is just as demanding as Bradley. We keep his wings clipped, and he's not as cat-savvy as Brad, so he has to stay in his cage when we're not around. But as soon as we open the door, he's ready to climb out and take up residence on his cage-top jungle gym. At first he hated being up there because the cage interior was his safe zone, but now he loves the taste of freedom and will play up there for hours. He has store-bought toys, but like a little kid his favorites are simple household items. He loves straws, flat toothpicks, toilet paper rolls, paper towels, and the plastic lids from Campbell's Soup to Go. The other day I gave him a metal juice lid, and he thought it was great fun to bang it against the perches.

He also enjoys making a rather disgusting "soup" in his water dish, consisting of whatever he can find to throw into it. That includes food, shredded newspaper, and various toys. I gave him the nice, big dish so he could take baths in it, but he prefers to bathe in his tiny drinking cup.

Since that's not adequate for proper birdie cleanliness, I take him into the shower with me every couple of weeks. To him it must be like the rainforest enjoyed by his ancestors...he perches on my arm and basks in the warm "rainfall" as the water beads run off his feathers and soak his little body.

I like to mentally torture him with games like wrapping a Nutriberry (bird treat) in a couple of layers of newspaper. He knows it's in there and tries to rip off the paper like a kid on Christmas morning. I also hide Nutriberries in empty Kleenex boxes so he has to wedge his birdy body in to get them out.

He is a wicked little bird; even though he is my pet, he bonded to my husband. Hubby is a bird hater...well, maybe not hater, but tolerator at best. He wouldn't be cruel to a bird, but neither does he like them or have any desire to interact with them. While he shares some of the cat duties and has cleaned out more than a few horse stalls in his day, he always left the care of Bradley strictly to me. He'd occasionally take Brad on his finger but that was the extent of their interaction.

With Truman, I informed hubby that he had to do some interaction because I didn't want our little green quaker to be bonded only to one person. Since we vacation frequently, I wanted him to be comfortable with others so he wouldn't be unduly stressed by different caretakers. Hubby started handing him a little bit each day, and darned if that wicked little Truman didn't bond to him! I mean bond as in hubby is his mate choice, and I am just chopped liver.

Now my husband can do anything with the bird. He is greeted by happy "clicks" each day, and he tolds Tru upside down on his finger, swings him around, and lays him on his back. No matter what, the bird trusts him and succumbs to whatever torture he imparts.

I never get a greeting, even though I am the feeder/cage cleaner, and when I try maneuvers like holding Tru upside down I get bit for my trouble. I've learned more about quakers, and apparently this is not uncommon. They are very opinionated birds who make their own choices despite the best efforts at human intervention. Like the cat who rubs against the only feline-hater in a room full of people, quakers will often peg a reluctant target.

Indeed, hubby was reluctant in the beginning but the cute little greenie's spell is working. I have caught him snuggling the bird and crooning baby talk, although he refuses to allow me to get such antics on camera.

In the meantime, I'm sloppy seconds but I still enjoy Truman. His vocabulary is amazing, with things like "Hello," "Bad Kitty," "Good Bird," "Step Up," and "No Bite," and he's starting to learn the Quaker Song ("I'm a little quaker green and stout, open my cage and let me out"). Of course he only talks when he wants to, and that's never when I have the video camera ready.

I still miss my sweet little Bradley, but Truman has definitely added life to Duloc Manor. Once you've had a bird, a quiet household just doesn't cut it.

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